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Ecological and Social Dynamics in Simple Models of Ecosystem Management

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Carpenter, Stephen; Brock, William A.; Hanson, Paul
Journal: Conservation Ecology
Volume: 3
Date: 1999
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/2674
Sector: Theory
Subject(s): adaptive systems
bounded rationality
ecological economics
resource management
Abstract: "Simulation models were developed to explore and illustrate dynamics of socioecological systems. The ecosystem is a lake subject to phosphorus pollution. Phosphorus flows from agriculture to upland soils, to surface waters, where it cycles between water and sediments. The ecosystem is multi-stable, and moves among domains of attraction depending on the history of pollutant inputs. The alternative states yield different economic benefits. Agents form expectations about ecosystem dynamics, markets, and/or the actions of managers, and choose levels of pollutant inputs accordingly. Agents have heterogeneous beliefs and/or access to information. Their aggregate behavior determines the total rate of pollutant input. As the ecosystem changes, agents update their beliefs and expectations about the world they co-create, and modify their actions accordingly. For a wide range of scenarios, we observe irregular oscillations among ecosystem states and patterns of agent behavior. These oscillations resemble some features of the adaptive cycle of panarchy theory."

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